Getting recognised by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide reviewers requires a passion for food and consistently high standards but Zanzibar Café, Merimbula has managed it for two consecutive years.
Not only has the fine dining restaurant retained its One Hat rating from the reviewers for this year but has also elicited some glowing comments about chef, Huw Jones’ menu.
In the 2014 SMH Good Food Guide, reviewers raved about the “compact chunks of pork belly, with fat well rendered and crackling crisp, glassy slices of seared local tuna” and “roasted duck breast and confit leg”.
As well as the main guide, reviewers also gave out a few extra gongs of their own with Zanzibar Café receiving the award for best dessert in a far-flung location. In the SMH, September 3, reviewers described the dessert: “A heavenly multilayered opera-type affair: crisp milk and dark chocolate discs, mousse, brownie. Showing technique you’d expect to find at Quay, transported to the South Coast by the fine diner’s former executive pastry chef, Angus Jones.”
In the Good Food Guide, reviewers also praised front of house management and “informed service” from Huw’s partner, Renee Loftus, commenting that with pedigree like the Jones’ it hardly matters that there’s no water view.
Huw brings his experience from Tetsuya and Bentley Restaurant & Bar, Sydney and Amberley Winery Restaurant, WA.
The restaurant received its first Hat last year after being awarded 15 points, the number necessary for One Hat, but this year Zanzibar Café managed 15.5 points.
Renee said: “You need 16 points for Two Hats and this will make us strive even better for next year.”
But getting the One Hat has offered its own rewards. “It was great and became a real drawcard for the restaurant. It created a lot of interest and bookings went up and we doubled bookings over the winter period from the previous year. That’s meant I’ve had someone working with me throughout winter,” Renee said.
“We love our restaurant and we try to bring a city experience with a country feel. It’s all about getting the freshest ingredients and keeping it all within the community.”